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Iowa community health center makes cuts amid funding delay

October 30, 2017

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — An eastern Iowa health center established to help underserved populations is trying to cut expenses as it awaits action on key federal grants.

Congress failed to extend funding for the Crescent Community Health Center in Dubuque for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1, The Telegraph Herald reported .

About $1.5 million of the center’s $6 million budget comes from federal grants. About 70 percent of those grants are at risk, said Julie Woodyard, the center’s executive director.

The funding is meant to help underserved populations get medical, mental health and dental care. The center has already reduced staff hours and froze hiring for nonclinical positions.

Woodyard said there is some funding available until early December, but if congressional action isn’t taken, the center may have to lay off staff, spend reserves or delay moving to a larger space.

The funding delay comes at a time when the center is hoping to fill a full-time physician and medical director position that has been vacant since August. A pediatrician and two part-time physicians have temporarily been filling in the position.

“This funding just makes it a little bit more uncertain for people to make a decision about coming to work here,” Woodyard said.

The National Health Service Corps also hasn’t received new money because of the funding expiration. The organization gives loan repayment and scholarships to doctors for working in underserved communities.

“That is one way to attract and retain physicians, and right now, we can’t offer that as a carrot,” Woodyard said. “We need Congress to take action.”

Crescent saw more than 6,200 patients in 2016. More than 1,600 patients were children and almost 200 were veterans.

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